Spiritual directors are seeing more and more people these days who live out their call in the marketplace. Most spiritual directors understand the working of God’s spirit in all walks of life—no more separation of secular and sacred. Individuals are called to be ethical and caring entrepreneurs and business people just as often (maybe more so) than they are called to a life of professional ministry.
People at all levels of business, finance and retail have lively and important spiritual paths to be explored. Their calling is to be a channel of God’s love and grace in the many circles in which they run.
In An Open Place: The Ministry of Group Spiritual Direction, spiritual director and business leader Evan Miller describes a group he created just for business leaders. Miller noticed that some business people in his Mennonite church saw little to no connection between what they believed and their day-to-day experience at work. “Churches—especially those with a strong emphasis on justice and service—seem to elevate and esteem the helping professions, but have a harder time knowing how to tend the spirituality of persons working in or leading for-profit businesses (P 25).”
The spiritual needs of most business people do not differ greatly from the needs we all have. They want to feel their contribution to the world, especially the economy, is meaningful and fulfilling. They want to feel God’s presence in all they do. They want their daily connections to be ethical, authentic and deep.
Discernment is an important practice for business people. They make decisions and choices all the time. Some of those are heavier than others and they may at times feel an invitation to prayer, silence and discussion with the spiritual director so that they make the kind of faithful choice that draws them deeper into relationship with God.
One particular discernment question for many workers today is “How shall I allocate my time?” With the explosion of technology at our fingertips, it is easy to work all the time and feel pressured to keep checking email, phone and text messages, Facebook or twitter posts, and read the news on your phone or tablet. When is enough enough? They may long for spiritual disciplines they can apply to help create healthy boundaries between work and home life.
Along those same lines is a key concern that working people bring to spiritual direction– not enough time for prayer and spiritual reflection. And when they describe their day and what is expected of them as they attempt to meet productivity standards and metrics, I understand their dilemma. So we talk about what they feel they need to say no to in order to say yes to their spiritual practice.
Some important spiritual direction questions for business people to ponder are:
- What aspect of your work brings you closer to the Divine? How so?
- How were you drawn to the work you now do?
- How have you changed as you progressed in your field of work?
- What spiritual practices help you through your day?
- What do you need from God at this time in your life?
- How are you taking care of yourself?
- What is your deepest desire for the work you do?
- How do you notice God’s invitation to you in the midst of your daily struggles at work?
When we can find God’s presence in the marketplace, then we have truly torn down the walls between what is considered secular and what is considered sacred. Spiritual direction is part of that deconstruction. It is my hope that more people in business, finance and retail will bring their deep spiritual questions and longings to spiritual direction for exploration.
If you are interested in learning more about spiritual direction or entering spiritual direction with me, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.teresablythe.net. Also visit my website for the Phoenix Center for Spiritual Direction.